Illinois SUP Laws

  • PFD Requirement:  One life jacket on board per person. Illinois law requires children under 13 to wear their life jacket on all boats 26′ and under.
  • Approved life jackets: USCG-approved Type I, II, or III, or Type V
  • Alcohol Law – Illinois law prohibits operating or being in control of any watercraft within the state while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The term “watercraft” includes motorized and non-motorized vessels. (kayaks, canoes, SUPs, etc.)
  • Lights: If a vessel is less than 23 feet long, and underway at night or during periods of reduced visibility, kayaks must carry a 360 degree white light visible for 2 miles.
  • Sounding Devices – Carrying a whistle is recommended
  • Registration – Unpowered vessels, like kayaks, canoes, and SUPs are exempted from boating registration.
  • Operator Licensing – There are no legal age requirements to operate unpowered kayaks or canoes in Illinois.
  • Visual Distress Signaling- All vessels are required to carry night signaling devices. Manually propelled vessels are exempt from carrying day signaling devices. On federally controlled waters (coastline), all vessels are required to carry U.S. Coast Guard-approved night VDS devices.
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